Course Descriptions

For a list of current course descriptions for Spring 2024, please click here.
For a list of current course descriptions for Fall 2023, please click here.

Spring 2024

AMST 1110.006 - Introduction to Envir & Social Justice

Sarah Knopp, slknopp@unm.edu | Full Semester, MW 5:00-6:15 p.m.

This class provides an introduction to the theories of the environment, theories of justice in the context of environmental policy and planning, and to histories of poor peoples' struggles around the unequal distribution of toxic waste. We will focus on the ways race, class, gender, sexuality, region, eco-colonialism and their intersections shape environmental and political struggles over natural resource use. Students will learn to examine the ways in which socially constructed representations of Nature shape our interactions with natural environments and shape our perceptions of environmental problems and solutions.

 

AMST 1120.002 - Introduction to Gender, Sex & Empire

Kara Roanhorse, roanhorse@unm.edu | Full Semester, TR 2:00-3:15 p.m.

Description forthcoming. 

 

AMST 1140.002 - Crit Race & Indigenous Studies

Tania Garcia, tpg22@unm.edu | Full Semester, TR 12:30-1:45 p.m.

This course introduces students to the historical and contemporary significance of race and Indigenous sovereignty in the context of what is currently the United States from the interdisciplinary perspective of American Studies. Beginning with the formative role of slavery and colonialism in the making of modern understandings of race and racial difference, this course focuses on race, class, ethnicity, and gender as key organizing categories of U.S. social, legal, cultural, and political life. Throughout the course we will consider the interdependent, intersectional, and relational dynamics of race, class, and ethnicity rather than approach each as discrete or stand-alone categories. We likewise examine how capitalism is a historically specific racialized and gendered social relation of inequality. Although our primary concern is the U.S. context, the course situates this context within the broader framework of global history and geopolitics in order to show how and why the U.S. cannot be studied and understood in isolation from the rest of the world. Course readings provide an analytic and historical basis for addressing questions of power, inequality, identity, collective struggle, and social movements.

 

AMST 1140.004 - Crit Race & Indigenous Studies

Joselin Castillo, joscastillo@unm.edu | Full Semester, TR 3:30-4:45 p.m.

This course introduces students to the historical and contemporary significance of race and Indigenous sovereignty in the context of what is currently the United States from the interdisciplinary perspective of American Studies. Beginning with the formative role of slavery and colonialism in the making of modern understandings of race and racial difference, this course focuses on race, class, ethnicity, and gender as key organizing categories of U.S. social, legal, cultural, and political life. Throughout the course we will consider the interdependent, intersectional, and relational dynamics of race, class, and ethnicity rather than approach each as discrete or stand-alone categories. We likewise examine how capitalism is a historically specific racialized and gendered social relation of inequality. Although our primary concern is the U.S. context, the course situates this context within the broader framework of global history and geopolitics in order to show how and why the U.S. cannot be studied and understood in isolation from the rest of the world. Course readings provide an analytic and historical basis for addressing questions of power, inequality, identity, collective struggle, and social movements.

 

AMST 309.001 - Prison, Schools, Detention

Alexander Pearl, apearl100@unm.edu | Full Semester, W 4:00-6:30 p.m.

In political struggles and debates across the history and geography of the United States, prisons and schools are pitched as moral binaries: polar opposites, good and evil. Ideas about the freedom of study and unfreedom of incarceration are so historically entangled with one another as to almost be bound together. This course explores the intersections of these institutions and the practices, theories, and social movements undergirding them. How have prisons shaped schools in the U.S., and vice-versa? Where and how have these institutions and practices converged and diverged on the basis of race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, and power more broadly? What lessons (and counter- lessons) might the history of prisons provide for teaching and learning today? And how might critical pedagogies open up or foreclose on various possible abolitionist or carceral futures?

From theories of discipline and punishment, through the early colonial university and (territorial) penitentiary, to boarding and mission schools, into the radical study of 1960s and 1970s, to the expansion of college and prison for the so-called “masses,” we will eventually analyze the overlapping discourses of and proposed solutions to crises of “mass incarceration” and public education today.

 

AMST 331.001 - Politics of Sex

Daisy Atterbury, daisyatterbury@unm.edu | Full Semester, TR 11:00-12:15 p.m.

“Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby”: What is “sex” and is it always political? How do our inherited and changing notions of sex influence social life—from the Senate floor to the closet? With a queer and feminist framework, this course will discuss topics from sex scandals in U.S. politics, to sexual orientation and 20th/21st Century U.S. marriage laws. We’ll think about sex work, #MeToo,  pornography and pop culture (from Madonna to Janelle Monáe to Lil Nas X), often drawing on LGBTQIA+ theory, film, music, poetry and media. This course will feature several guest speakers.

 

AMST 370.001 - Indigenous Horror

Jennifer Denetdale, jdenet@unm.edu | Second Half, MW 12:00-2:30 p.m.

This course explores how Indigenous writers, poets, theorists and filmmakers take up horror as a genre. Drawing upon storytelling as method, horror is used to examine the conditions of Indigenous life. Since the content focuses on horror, gore, and violence, students may find the material unsettling and emotionally charged.

 

AMST 485.001 - Senior Seminar

Alyosha Goldstein, agoldste@unm.edu | Full Semester, M 4:00-6:30 p.m.

This is the capstone course for the American Studies major. It is meant to give students an opportunity to synthesize what they have learned in your American Studies courses and related classes.  It is also a chance for students to do their own, original work on a topic that matters to them.  We will work together to develop and strengthen skills in research, analysis, and writing, but the major part of the seminar is the work students will do to produce a 20-page original senior thesis.


Graduate Seminars

AMST 510.001 - T: Marxism & Culture

Michael Trujillo, mltruj@unm.edu | Full Semester, W 2:00-4:30 p.m.

This course explores the development of Western Marxism and Marxist culturalinterpretation through the reading of key Marxist, post-Marxist, and Latinx Marxist texts. We wellcritically entertain the questions “What relevance does Marxist cultural critique hold for currentscholarship?” and “Was Marx right?” Course readings will illustrate Marxist  understandings of capitalismand modernity as well as Marxist perspectives on cultural production, domination/resistance, andaesthetic experience. In the second half of the course, discussion will increasingly focus on works thatcontest, reveal the limitations of, or seek to expand Marxist thought in terms of race, gender, sexuality,and decolonial politics.


AMST 516.001 - Religion, Race, Revolution

Kathleen Holscher, kholscher@unm.edu | Full Semester, T 12:30-3:00 p.m.

In this seminar we interrogate how religion has formed white supremacy and colonialism in the context of the United States, as well as globally. We also consider religious institutions, identities, theologies, and practices as locations of resistance to and revolution against racist and colonialist structures. The seminar moves in four parts: during the first two units we survey “state of the field” scholarship exploring both the categorical relationships and lived intersections of religion with race and empire. During the second unit we look back across the second half of the twentieth century, to consider anti-racist and anti-colonial critiques of Christianity that emerged during that period, and new liberation theologies that activated a Christian mandate to overturn unjust—or in the Christian imagining-- sinful social structures. In the final unit we center radical movements and their actors, and examine the role of religion in their work. Here we will interrogate differences between religious and secular models of imagining and acting for revolutionary change. Overall, this seminar is an opportunity for us to rigorously and collectively engage a selection of historical commentaries by religious voices and their critics, alongside a collection of contemporary scholarship that straddles the fields of religious studies and American studies, so that participants may develop their own informed positions within this important conversation.


AMST 520.001 - Planetary Futures

Alyosha Goldstein, agoldste@unm.edu | Full Semester, T 4:00-6:30 p.m.

This graduate seminar examines how, historically and in the present, racialized, colonized, and otherwise dispossessed or impoverished peoples have contested colonial-capitalist economies of accumulation and created possibilities for collective life through and beyond climate catastrophe. Studying how formations of climate imperialism and colonial occupation, fossil fuel economies and other regimes of capitalist extraction, and global militarism and toxic wastelanding have unevenly shaped the human and more-than-human world and distributed violence and violation across the planet, the seminar emphasizes collective and coalitional initiatives that build on and exceed movements for “environmental justice” in order to envision and enact livable futures. Readings include texts by Andrew Curley, Myrriah Gómez, Kristen Simmons, Amitav Ghosh, Alice Mah, Salar Mameni, Max Liboiron, Traci Brynne Voyles, Neel Ahuja,Kathryn Yusoff, Thea Riofrancos, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Mel Chen, and Olúfhemi O. Táíwò.


AMST 530.002 - T: Fem Queer Transgend Methods

Daisy Atterbury, daisyatterbury@unm.edu | Full Semester, M 4:00-6:30 p.m.

This course discusses feminist, queer and trans* approaches to methods (research strategies) and methodologies (approaches to knowledge production) across the humanities. We will explore what it means “to queer" writing and research, using transdisciplinary perspectives to identify debates and tensions in conceptualizing, conducting, analyzing, writing, and disseminating scholarship within and beyond the academy. Our inquiry will focus on how interlocking systems of power related to gender, race, sexuality and coloniality impact the production of knowledge, thinking about the poetential efficacies (and limitations) of research in facilitating the disruption of normative social systems. This is an applied course that emphasizes skills-building and workshop facilitation, supporting graduate students in both the sustenance of present, ongoing writing projects and the development of early research programs incorporating queer and feminist methods. Readings draw on a range of thinkers, from José Esteban Muñoz to Maria Lugones, Amin Ghaziani, Amber Musser, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Heather Love and Billy-Ray Belcourt.

Fall 2023

AMST 1110 - Introduction to Environmental & Social Justice

Matthew MacDermant, mmacdermant@unm.edu | Online Full Semester

Sarah Knopp, slknopp@unm.edu | Online Full Semester

David Correia, dcorreia@unm.edu | Second Half Semester

This class provides an introduction to the theories of the environment, theories of justice in the context of environmental policy and planning, and to histories of poor peoples' struggles around the unequal distribution of toxic waste. We will focus on the ways race, class, gender, sexuality, region, eco-colonialism and their intersections shape environmental and political struggles over natural resource use. Students will learn to examine the ways in which socially constructed representations of Nature shape our interactions with natural environments and shape our perceptions of environmental problems and solutions.

AMST 1130 - Introduction to Politics in Pop Culture

Shebati Sengupta, ssengupta@unm.edu | Online Full Semester

What is popular culture? How do we use it to understand the world? How does it reflect the world we live in? In this course, we will consider a range of theoretical approaches to the study of popular culture. Drawing from concepts and debates in popular culture studies, cultural studies, feminist theory, and media studies, we will explore the relationships between popular culture and the formation of social determinants such as race, gender, class, and sexuality.  

The goal of this course is to provide students with a critical vocabulary to make sense of the broader significance and relevance of popular culture. In other words, how and why does popular culture matter? Importantly, we will also consider how popular culture serves as a site of ongoing political struggle. To do so, we will investigate several expressive forms, including music videos, award shows, comedy, branding, fandom, Indigenous performance, animated television shows, and poetry. Students are encouraged to bring their passion for their favorite cultural productions and an openness to critically analyze the media we interact with every day.


AMST 1140 - Critical Race & Indigenous Studies

Staff | Full Semester

Alyosha Goldstein, agoldste@unm.edu | Second Half Online Semester

This course introduces students to the historical and contemporary politics of race and Indigenous self-determination in the context of what is currently the United States from the interdisciplinary perspective of American Studies. Beginning with the formative role of slavery and colonialism in the making of modern understandings of race and racial difference, this course focuses on race and colonialism as key organizing categories of U.S. social, legal, cultural, and political life. Throughout the course we will consider the interdependent, intersectional, and relational dynamics of social identities. We likewise examine how capitalism is a historically specific racialized and gendered social relation of inequality. Although our primary concern is the U.S. context, the course situates this context within the broader framework of global history and geopolitics in order to show how and why the U.S. cannot be studied and understood in isolation from the rest of the world. Course readings provide an analytic and historical basis for addressing questions of power, inequality, identity, collective struggle, and social movements.
 

AMST 1150 - Introduction to Southwest Studies

Joselin Castillo, joscastillo@unm.edu | Full Semester

This course provides both an introduction to the complex history and culture of the southwestern United States and a demonstration of the possibilities of the interdisciplinary study of regional American culture. It is multicultural in content and multidisciplinary in methodology. It examines cross-cultural relationships among the peoples of the Southwest within the framework of their expressions and experiences in art, culture, religion, and social and political economy. More specifically, this course will consider: What is this place we call the Southwest? How is it defined- geographically, politically, and culturally? Who are the people that live there? How have their lives been transformed by social and historical forces into the cultures we see today? At the same time, how have these same groups retained their traditions, customs, and beliefs in response to change? This course will explore contemporary Southwestern cultures, their multiple voices and culture expressions, using an interdisciplinary approach that draws from geography, anthropology, history, literature, and the arts.


AMST 303 - Law, Violence, & Empire

David Correia, dcorreia@unm.edu | Full Semester

This class examines law’s relationship to violence and its role in shaping the practices of settler colonialism. Law claims to make sense of the world. Making the world legible (and “orderly”) is both a central imperative of law and, seemingly, its effect. The idea that law objectively transforms the unruliness of social life into an ordered legibility is perhaps law’s most important accomplishment. This is how law disguises its role in producing this unruliness it promises to resolve. Through violence (whether police violence, military violence, the violence of the death penalty, mass incarceration, etc.), the world is made legible to the state, to its police and courts, to all its institutions. This class examines the history and practice of law’s violence, law’s role in the making the colonial world, and law’s legacies of ongoing and violent struggles over empire.


AMST 310 - T: Breaking Bad TV Race & Gender

Michael Trujillo, mltruj@unm.edu | Full Semester

Description Forthcoming.


AMST 350 - T: Opioid Crisis NM & Beyond

Nathan Leach, nleach@unm.edu | Full Semester

This course examines the historical and contemporary formation of what has become known as the “opioid crisis” in the United States. In this course students will consider the role of capitalism and its intersection with gender, race, ability, and class that impact how the opioid crisis as taken shape. Throughout the semester students will explore what social, cultural, and economic formations have come to create the material conditions in which opioid use and overdose have impacted the everyday life for millions of Americans. Further, students will explore the various responses to the opioid crisis by public health policy, policing and carceral institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and political activists. Although this course provides perspectives attributed to the US more broadly, this course will also look at the unique formation of the opioid crisis within the New Mexico context including the intersection of drug use, culture, dispossession, colonialism and state and tribal responses.


AMST 385 - The Problem of America

Alexander Pearl, apearl00@unm.edu | Full Semester

This seminar introduces students to interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of “America.” We will focus on how ideas about race, ethnicity, class, indigeneity, gender, sexuality, region, disability, and nationality have shaped contests over the meaning of citizenship and belonging. Further, through close analysis and classroom discussion of various research methodologies that employ primary source material such as historical documents, literature, ethnography, and visual and popular culture, this course gives students the tools to create their own interdisciplinary work. 

The seminar will be framed around the following questions: What is distinct about interdisciplinary scholarship? What kinds of questions do interdisciplinary scholars ask and why? What does a comparative framework require and offer in terms of methodology? 

Theory:  an underlying explanatory principle, perspective, or model.  Theory is an analytic structure designed for understanding and explaining a given subject matter; a set of ideas intended to make something comprehensible, or which offers an explanation of how something works or why something happens.   

Method:  the means to analysis.  A method is the procedures, principles, and techniques characteristic of a particular discipline or field of knowledge; a specific set of established practices, a way of going about research and scholarly investigation.

Graduate Seminars

AMST 500 - American Culture Study Seminar

Alyosha Goldstein, agoldste@unm.edu | Full Semester

The proseminar introduces graduate students the field of American Studies. This course is limited to American Studies graduate students in their first or second year of coursework. Over the course of the semester, we work to develop a shared frame of reference for the multiple ways in which American Studies scholars and scholars from adjacent fields utilize, reimagine, and/or challenge an interdisciplinary range of theories, methods, and academic literatures. The proseminar introduces students to the intellectual questions and problems that have shaped the field historically, as well as providing an opportunity to engage recent innovative texts that extend and/or critically rethink aspects of American Studies and related scholarship. Readings and course discussion are intended to provide students with knowledge of the multiple disciplinary perspectives and thematic fields most relevant to the specific formation of American Studies at UNM.


AMST 530 - T: Writing Queer Ethnic Study

Francisco Galarte, galarte@unm.edu | Full Semester

Description Forthcoming.


AMST 570 - T: Indigenous Memoir & Story

Jennifer Denetdale, jdenet@unm.edu | Full Semester

Description Forthcoming.

Jennifer Denetdale

Department Chair
Humanities Building - Room 430
Phone: 277-3929


Alyosha Goldstein

Director of Graduate Studies
Humanities Building - Room 436 
Phone: 277-3929


Rebecca Schreiber

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Humanities Building - Room 426
Phone: 277-3929